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Friday, February 4, 2011

New bubble watch: Georgia

We here at Le Blog have increased Georgia’s chances of making the NCAAs to 70 percent, after several weeks at 60. And it’s not just because of what the Bulldogs did by winning at Arkansas.

As you scan around the country, the quality of at-large contenders continues to decrease. For instance, Maryland’s home loss to Duke may have been a downer for certain, ahem, Terrapin graduates out there. But it may have been a make-or-break game for an at-large team, and it broke badly for that team from an otherwise very prestigious university.

Meantime, look at some of the teams in the top 60 in the RPI: Kansas State (14-8, one of the nation’s most disappointing teams), Boston College (14-8, clobbered at home by North Carolina), Michigan State (12-9), Penn State (12-9), Valparaiso (14-7), Harvard (13-3), California (13-9), Butler (13-9) and Marshall (13-7).

Yup, a pretty weak crop. Penn State's the one that sticks out to me: The Nittany Lions are 46 in the RPI, and fourth in strength of schedule, but are 1-6 on the road and have losses to the likes of Mississippi, Maryland, Michigan and Maine.

Meantime, Georgia’s resume’ may not have a ton of signature wins, but it continues to not have any bad losses. After last year’s road struggles, Georgia is now 5-2 on hostile courts. (It decreases to 6-4 if you count the neutral-site Old Spice Classic.) The home losses to Tennessee and Florida still hurt, but each of those teams are going to the tournament. (Well, unless the NCAA comes down on Tennessee.)

What hasn’t changed for Georgia is that next week’s game against Xavier remains crucial. The Musketeers (15-6) are currently ranked 25th in the RPI. A win would strengthen Georgia’s resume’ in a lot of ways, while a loss would make things a bit harder.

The current breakdown:

Record: 15-6 overall, 4-4 in the SEC
RPI: 36
SOS: 36
Record vs. top 50 in RPI: 2-6 (beat Kentucky and UAB, lost to Notre Dame, Kentucky, Temple, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida)
Record vs. top 100: 5-6 (also beat Mississippi, Colorado and Arkansas)

What happened this week: On Monday, Jerry Palm of projected Georgia as a No. 9 seed in his bracket, while ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had the Bulldogs as his first team missing the 68-team field. But on Thursday two of the teams Lunardi had barely in, Washington State and Butler, suffered bad losses.

It’s still a bit early to break things down on a game-by-game basis like that, but it does serve to illustrate how weak that bubble is becoming.

What to watch this weekend: Clemson, a team creeping into bubble status, is at Georgia Tech on Saturday. It’s not worth mentioning every potential bubble team in action, because there are too many, but that one’s noteworthy.

I’d also be intrigued by Alabama at Tennessee on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Crimson Tide are the class of the West right now, but still have an RPI of 113. But if the Tide starting getting some big road wins, it’ll be time to start talking about Anthony Grant’s team as a factor.

Kentucky at Florida on Saturday at 9 p.m. is interesting from a division standpoint. But both those teams are pretty much locks for the tournament.
Colorado, which Georgia is still a fan of, is at No. 14 Missouri on Saturday.

Next up for Georgia: The Bulldogs’ RPI may go down just by playing Auburn, still the lowest-ranked team in the six major conferences. Georgia just has to make sure it gets the win, and doesn’t have a repeat of South Carolina’s disastrous home loss to the Tigers last Saturday.


Rebounding Dawg said...

This is good stuff. thanks.

It's all out there for Georgia to grab, both in the SEC and nationally. Just no dominant teams in basketball this year. But Dawgs have to be more consistent in effort and execution.

IveyLeaguer said...

Yep, we definitely slumped after the Florida heartbreaker, now it's time to pick it back up.

Consistency in effort and execution pretty much says it all. It was coming slowly there for awhile before we hit the bump of UT/UF.

It's time to start jelling, if its going to happen.

OldDawg55 said...

Roundball yada,yada,yada....doesn't anyone care we lost a damn good dawg...UGAVIII has gone to good dawg heaven at 16 months of age..and a short time between the hedges...nevertheless, he was a damn good dawg and worthy of the Bulldog nation's respect and sympathy. Farewell Big Bad Bruce..your memory lives on on Sanford field.